Policies On Housing #5 – Ellen Woodsworth, Cope City Council Candidate

1. What do you see as the main housing challenges facing Vancouver?
Homelessness and affordable housing is a chronic problem in our city. Many residents who wish to start a family and live in Vancouver are forced to move out of our city to find affordable housing. COPE is committed to creating a Vancouver where seniors, immigrants, youth and families are able to choose the communities they want to live in, build a family in and grow old in.

2. What measures do you propose to address those challenges?
Vancouver has been critically unaffordable for far too long. The lack of affordability is threatening families, seniors, immigrants and our local economy. COPE is committed to the following measure to address this issue:
• We will launch an “Affordability Crisis Commission” to determine the extent of the new crisis and recommend positive solutions to keep families, seniors, students, new immigrants and small businesses in our city.
• COPE will protect affordable housing by closing by-laws loopholes that allow affordable units to be replaced with high-end condo rentals
• COPE will set a target of creating 1000 affordable rental units in Vancouver every year. Real affordable housing, not high-end rental condos.
• Rent banks
• As a city councilor Ellen has voted to the 10 housing plan


3. What is your policy on housing densification?

New housing in Vancouver should be about the type of housing that is created and NOT the volume of housing or the number of units that are being constructed. However, it is important to built a wide range of housing to meet the range of housing needs in our city. Affordable housing should be the number one priority of housing densification projects in Vancouver because affordable housing will create a Vancouver where everyone can afford to live where they choose. As a Vancouver City Councillor, I supported the 10-year City of Vancouver Housing Plan.

4. Would you support policies that would lead to a drop in real estate values?
We live in a great city and a very desirable city. Seniors, immigrants, youth and families move to Vancouver because of the many opportunities that are available here. Directly building and maintaining a supply of affordable housing separate from market developments is going to promote affordability all over Vancouver and make our communities more inclusive. Housing will target specific groups like students, artists, families and seniors.

5. What is your own family’s housing situation?

We rented a row house for 32 years. It was recently sold and we are now looking for housing.


[This post is not to be seen as a VREAA endorsement of any of the above positions. See ‘Policies On Housing’ – The Positions Of Local Entities On The Challenges Facing Vancouver Housing‘ for an introduction/rationale for this series.]

17 responses to “Policies On Housing #5 – Ellen Woodsworth, Cope City Council Candidate

    • I hadn’t seen the second link. Thanks for this. That seems to match all the data I’ve seen: about 1 in 10 units aren’t occupied for various reasons, partly due to a vacancy rate likely around 5% or so, and others kept dark or for sale.

      On the former link, Garassino and others have pointed out that mailing address is not a good gauge of “foreign” investment because tax assessments are mailed to property managers (including family members or friends of the owner).

      “Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than the exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.”
      John Tukey

    • They are not mailed to foreign addresses. So what if the family immigrated here? Would that not be HAM too?

  1. pricedoutfornow

    She’s a renter too? Hmm….interesting. One politician who would understand the challenges this presents.

    • Clr Woodsworth commented it’s difficult finding stable rental accommodation.

      I think many residents who run for council do so because they have been recently and personally affected by some issue, Woodsworth has been in council long before her family’s recent termination notice.

  2. .”..committed to creating a Vancouver where seniors, immigrants, youth and families are able to choose the communities they want to live in, build a family in and grow old in”

    those who don’t fit this description take a seat at the back of the class.

    • It looks like it excludes middle-aged locals who are single or in couples (sans ‘family’).

      • beat me to it (left the reply window open too long). In couples they can call themselves a family, too, so I think that leaves pretty much the weirdos.

      • I’m sure the definition of family includes children – not childless couples.

    • So… middle-aged single men and women living alone are excluded from choosing the communities they want to live in?

      Why are you complaining here? you should take it up with your parole officer if you are not free to choose the community you want to settle in.

  3. I’m still waiting on the answer to question 4. Is a straight answer that hard to get these days.

  4. You will never get a “straight answer” to #4 because it is phrased negatively.
    “Would you support policies that would lead to a drop in real estate values?” is the question.
    Yes… prices must come down to support sustainable growth and attract top talent to build businesses and grow the economy. That’s the answer you want but what will be seen is “Yes, I will lower real estate values” and that’s not a positive framing.
    No… because to do so would directly hurt those who have made significant sacrifices to invest in long term growth of both themselves and the community here. That’s what owners want to hear but this blog and those who are shut out do not want to see. It would be reframed by observers as supporting the continuing madness.
    A better question might be: “What would you do to support more affordable housing solutions, specifically in light of the inability to purchase primary housing by the local median household earners?” The answer may result in lower real estate values but the framing of the question is on the positive side of things. No one will ever say “I will destroy your equity/increase the risk of your prior commitment!” That would be political suicide and the question, as framed, demonstrates a clear bias by the questioner. Sandy Garossino answered it best while remaining just vague enough to say in effect “Yes, it is a problem but it is very difficult for me to give a specific answer on what practices exactly are the problem.” That way she acknowledges the issue, hints she knows exactly what practices are causing the greatest problem, but remains non-specific so as not to alienate potential voters. It’s the kind of answer that demands follow-up. EG “What specific practices are you referring to that need to be revised to help solve the crisis?” In a debate this would be asked. In a blog interview, it fails to be asked and lacks journalistic value remaining open-ended.

    BTW, I love that you approached all the candidates! It would be great to be able to set-up a moderated live chat/debate on these issues here. I’m curious who would take part walking into the lion’s den.

    • The question in my view was a good one because it’s never asked. Of course nobody is going to say they want lower prices, that’s a big part of the point.

      Read Joe Carangi’s response.

    • Rob, note who has not responded yet. Vision is notably absent, as is the majority of the NPA.

  5. I like the idea of creating “1000” rental units per year. But why not high-end rentals? If there is a market for high-end rentals (lots of bedrooms and sqft) then build them! Keep building them until the market for these soften (especially if they are the most profitable for developers/investors). I’m in one myself. When it softens, build smaller rentals with less bedrooms until that market softens. Keep doing this… why stop at 1000 if 1 million of them will be consumed by the current market. Not everyone wants to borrow a million dollars and put their equity at risk, but there sure seems to be a lot of gambling investors, so have at it. The key is to have the govt mark them as rentals only, no owner-occupiers.

    There will never be a bubble in rentals because you can only squeeze inflation and wage-adjusted rent out of renters before they simply can’t pay and your cap rate goes to 0%.

  6. Thanks to Ellen Woodsworth for her thoughtful responses. Ellen, Tim Louis and Sandy Garossino all have my vote.

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